Travel: 20 Hot Tickets for Summer 2014

14th May 2014
Pól Ó Conghaile

Summer is coming, and with it a host of new routes, openings, destinations, anniversaries and rides. Here’s my travel hotlist for summer 2014, from both Ireland and overseas.

Fly Away… new routes for summer 2014

Routes are booming in all of Ireland’s airports this summer, with highlights including new services from Dublin to Toronto and San Francisco, a weekly Germanwings service from Knock to Cologne starting May 31, and dozens of new Ryanair routes from Cork, Shannon, Dublin and Ireland West.

New York’s Memorial Museum…

One of the eagerly anticipated museums of the decade finally opens its doors this May 21. Access to the 9/11 Memorial Museum costs $24, with tickets including access to the 9/11 Memorial itself, though savvy travellers will spot that admission is free on Tuesdays from 5-8pm (advance booking essential). 911memorial.org.

Let’s talk Turkey…

Travelling to Turkey? A new ‘Law on Foreigners’ took effect this April, with overseas visitors now expected to apply for an e-visa before travel (www.evisa.gov.tr.en; $20). Visitors arriving without visas will be able to use kiosks placed in the airports for the 2014 season – though this will assuredly take longer and cost more.

Ireland’s brand new Blueway…

Two divers staring at the camera

You’ve heard of greenways. Now get ready for Ireland’s first Blueway, which links water trails at Boffin Harbour on Inisboffin, Killary Fjord in Leenane, Keem Strand on Achill Island, Mannin Bay near Clifden and Old Head in Co. Mayo. it’s aimed at intrepid snorkelers and kayakers on the Atlantic Coast. discoverireland.ie.

Passport to happiness…

Is your passport in date? This summer, the Passport Service is introducing a pilot Rapid Renewal system allowing 20 appointments a day for emergency renewals (book from 2.30pm the previous day on dfa.ie). The Service has also launched a new Twitter account (@PassportIRL) to handle queries on social media.

Ratatouille: Remy’s Totally Crazy Adventure

Walt Disney Studios Paris is reported to be launching its newest attraction on July 10th: a dark ride based on Pixar’s Ratatouille. A ‘Chez Remy’ restaurant will open close to the attraction, which uses a trackless system, outsized props and immersive 3D projections to make riders feel like rats on a run…  disneylandparis.ie.

Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing…

Immrama (June 12-15) always punches above its weight on the festival calendar, and heavyweight travel writers and broadcasters like Tim Butcher and Charlie Bird should ensure the 12th instalment is no different. Lismoreimmrama.com.

60 Candles for Relais & Chateau…

It’s 60 years since Relais & Chateau united its first luxury hotels under the slogan ‘Le Route du Bonheur’ (the road to happiness). Today, 520 members include the Park Hotel and Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare – who are teaming up for a ‘Diamonds in the Nest’ experience combining one night’s B&B and a tasting dinner with wine at each hotel from €395pp (May 9-10). relaischateau.com/en

The Thrill of Strandhill…

Could this be the package deal of the summer? Businesses in Strandhill have teamed up to offer B&B at the Strandhill Lodge and Suites, a two-hour surf lesson, brunch at Shells Café, a Voya seaweed bath, a guided walk up Knocknarea, an early bird at Trá Bán and a pint at The Strand from €175pp. Email: trabanstrandhill (at) gmail.com.

Divis Ridge Trail, Belfast

Divis Ridge belfast 3

Here’s a city view with a difference. The new Divis Ridge Trail has just opened in the Belfast Hills, offering a relatively flat 4.2km hike within shouting distance of the city. Expect panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains, the Lake District and Scotland as well as Belfast’s shapeshifting skyline. Discovernorthernireland.com.

‘Appy Days…

Another day, another travel app. Views on Top could well be worth a download, however, in that it does what it says on the tin – telling travellers where to find the very best views in a city. Search by location, experience or venue type (everything from Ferris wheels to five-star hotels are included). viewsontop.com.

Explore Ireland’s Islands…

Two books celebrating Ireland’s islands are hot off the press this summer -Ireland’s Western Islands by John Carlos (Collins Press; €19.99) and a second edition of Oileáin: The Irish Islands Guide by David Walsh (Pesda Press; €30). Two more excuses as if they were needed – to explore the hundreds of hidden gems offshore.

Etihad’s Travel Tips…

Travelling to Abu Dhabi or the UAW? Etihad Airways is offering personalised travel tips to social media users. Simply tweet you holiday-related query to #EtihadSuggests, and it promises to respond within 10 minutes with insider info on the best hotels, restaurants and attractions in the UAE. etihad.com.

Playtime at the Irish National Stud…

It’s time to re-visit the Irish National Stud. A brand new playground has opened at Kildare’s horsey crossroads, with a new teahouse to follow for the June bank holiday weekend, including a veranda for parents taking a breather. Fab gardens, foals and a small horse museum are also on offer. Irishnationalstud.ie; €12.50/€7.

An Upgrade for Wicklow Gaol…

It’s back to the future for Wicklow Gaol this summer, as the ancient Prison launches an interactive journey including holographic projections of prison guards, children’s discovery points, audio handsets and a dynamic range of bespoke experiences (including cell sleepovers). wicklowshistoricgaol.com.

On Your Bike with Cycle Ireland…

Cycle Ireland has just launched an app featuring 100 of the most scenic routes in the country. The app is free to try with four routes, features turn-by-turn directions referencing visual cues, and conveniently for cyclists peddling down bohareens in the backwoods, all features can be used offline. Cycleireland.ie; €4.99.

Horse & Carriage Rides at Russborough…

Russborough, horse & carriage

Rolling stones gather no moss, and that’s certainly the case at Russborough House.  New to the Palladian mansion this year are horse and carriage rides, sheepdog demonstrations, an outdoor sculpture exhibition (July 19- August 10), an outdoor concert featuring the Celtic Tenors (August 16) and garden tours that include the Rhododendron Garden for the first time since 1978. russboroughhouse.ie.

Cork Whiskey Way…

Irish Distillers has launched Cork’s first ‘Whiskey Way’ trail; a self-guided whiskey trail available as a free iPhone app or printed map. It features ten handpicked pubs (Canty’s, Counihan’s, Electric, Le Chateau, SoHo Bar, The Mutton Lane Inn, The Oliver Plunkett, The Oval, The Roundy and The Woodford) – scan a QR code from four, and you get a free pass to the Old Jameson Distillery. Itunes.apple.com/ie

Summer Sun at Cork Airport…

Two million seats and 50 direct services are available from Cork Airport this summer, but new developments aren’t all up in the air. A new airport app includes live arrivals and departures, car park booking, shopping offers from The Loop, integrated maps and live weather reports. It’s free from iTunes and Google Play. 

Think pink for the Giro d’Italia…

Ireland hosts the start of the 97th Giro d’Italia next month. Belfast kicks proceedings off with an opening ceremony and Giro Festival packed with Italian-themed food, fashion and fun (May 8), before the race progress towards Dublin on May 11. Spectators are encouraged to wear pink… Girostart2014.com

An abridged version of this list ran in The Irish Examiner.